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The Zen Shakuhachi Truth Research Web Pages

Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi History & Ideology in Particular

Torsten Olafsson • 無穴笛オーラフソン トーステンデンマーク • Denmark



About this Research Project

Realizations & Conclusions

Highlighted Pictures

Highlighted Quotations

Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
A Chronological Overview:

 •  India
 •  China
 •  Japan
 •  The West

To be - or not to be:
     a "Zen Buddhist Priest"?

Errors, Misconceptions & Loose Ends

The Source Collections

The Written Sources

1470?: The Kyōgen Play Rakuami

1505: Kōrin's Shakuhachi Essay

1512: The Taigenshō Music Treatise

The Komosō & Fuke-komosō Sources

1614: The Keichō kemmon-shū

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Evidence

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Thesis

1640s?: The Hotoke-gotoba Evidence

1646: Isshi Bunshu's Letter
     to the Komusō Sandō Mugetsu

1646 ... The Hottō Kokushi Legend

The Early Komusō Texts

The Kyōto/Kansai Sources

The Edo/Kantō/Tōkyō Sources

1664: Shichiku shoshinshū

1677: The Empō 5, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Ordinance

1678: The Empō 5, 12th Month
     Komusō-ha Oboe Memorandum

1687: The Jōkyō 4, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Ordinance

1694: Engetsu's Honsoku deshi ...

1703 & 1705: The Myōan-ji
     c/o Kōkoku-ji Interrelationship

1732: The Shakuhachi denrai-ki

1735: Myōan-ji's Kyorei-zan engi ...

1740?: Keichō no okitegaki -
     Existing Reprint Versions

1795: Kyotaku denki kokujikai

1816: Miyaji Ikkan's Shakuhachi hikki

1823: Hisamatsu Fūyō's Hitori mondō

1848: Bakufu Government Decree
     re-administrating the "Fuke Sect"

1871: Bakufu Government Decree
     bans & dissolves the "Fuke Sect"

1890 ... The Legacy of Higuchi Taizan

1930s: Uramoto Setchō Credo

1970s: Myōan Taizan-ha Thought & Credos

Honkyoku Music History
     Ascetic Shakuhachi Titles

Miyagawa Nyozan's Honkyoku 'Ajikan'

Myōan Taizan-ha Notation



Profile / Bio / CV

Contact Info


"Tsure - re - "
The very first - and
most essential - step
into the sound sphere
of Myōan Shakuhachi

Calligraphed by
Ozawa Seizan - 1977

Myōan Taizan-ha Shakuhachi Theory & Notation

Hifumi-chō - Myōan Taizan-ha Fuke Shakuhachi Tradition

If your computer loud speakers are turned on while this web page is open you'll be listening to the late Myōan Taizan-ha kanshu Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin's version of "Hifumi-chō", recorded and presented to me on a (somewhat poorly recorded) cassette tape in Autumn 1977 (re the notation to the right). The recording was digitalized by Danish audio engineer Bent Hulsrøj, Bent Hulsrøj/BH Audio, Denmark.
- - -
"A basket-trap is for catching fish,
but when one has got the fish,
one need think no more about the basket.
A foot-trap is for catching hares;
but when one has got the hare,
one need think no more about the trap.
Words are for holding ideas,
but when one has got the idea,
one need no longer think about the words.
If only I could find someone who has stopped thinking
about words and could have him with me to talk to!"

By Chuang Tzu, c. 369 - c. 286 B.C. - one of the most prominent exponents of classical Chinese Taoism. Trsl. by Fung Yu-lan
in: "A Short History of Chinese Philosophy", 1968, pp. 12-13.

Analogously, such is also the case with the symbols of music notation - in my own interpretation:

Symbols of music are for holding sounds.
Once you've grasped the essence of those sounds,
you need no longer think about, nor concern yourself with the symbols ...

The music of the Myōan Shakuhachi tradition is notated in the socalled kata-kana syllabary of Japanese writing:
ro-tsu-re-chi-ha-i, etc.
Representing successions of sound events, the kata-kana symbols are written and read downwards from top, right - quite simple, indeed - and aesthetically pleasing, too.

Here follow, by way of example, small-scale reproductions of the six Myōan Shakuhachi pieces recorded on the album "Standing Waves" in 1983, calligraphed by my teacher Ozawa Seizan of the Kyōto Myōan-ji through 1977-78:

Hachi-gaeshi no Kyoku Hi-fu-mi Chō Chōshi

Hachi-gaëshi no Kyoku - Hi-fu-mi Chō - Chōshi

Sanya no Kyoku, left Sanya no Kyoku, middle Sanya no Kyoku, right

San-ya no Kyoku

Kyūsh#0363; Reibo Shizu no Kyoku, left Shizu no Kyoku, right

Kyūshū Reibo - Shizu no Kyoku

"The symbol serves to express an idea,
and is to be discarded once the idea has been understood.
Words serve to explain thoughts,
and ought to be silenced once the thoughts have been absorbed ...
It is only those who can grasp the fish and discard the fishing net
that are qualified to seek the truth."

By Tao-sheng, died A.D. 434 - one of the central figures in early Chinese Buddhism. Trsl. by Fung Yu-lan
in: "A Short History of Chinese Philosophy", 1968, p. 253.

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Hi-fu-mi Chō

Hi-fu-mi Chō:

Hi-fu-mi Chō Hi-fu-mi Chō